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Perl Programming Upgrades

Damian Conway On Perl 6 and the Philosophy of Programming 132

Posted by Soulskill
from the secretly-being-developed-by-blizzard dept.
M-Saunders writes: Perl 6 has been in development since 2000. So why, 14 years later, hasn't it been released yet? Linux Voice caught up with Damian Conway, one of the architects of Perl 6, to find out what's happening. "Perl 6 has all of the same features [as Perl 5] but with the rough edges knocked off of them", he says. Conway also talks about the UK's Year of Code project, and how to get more people interested in programming.
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Damian Conway On Perl 6 and the Philosophy of Programming

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  • by Chrisq (894406)
    Will it run on HURD?
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Waffle Iron (339739)

      Will it run on HURD?

      That will have to wait.

      The HURD developers have just noticed that their code would be more elegant if it were implemented using the new features of a modern programming language, so they're now starting a ground up rewrite of the HURD kernel in Perl 6.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "Was that we wrote Perl 6 in Perl 5. What the hell were we thinking? It's Perl all the way down."

    • by jez9999 (618189) on Friday July 04, 2014 @11:18AM (#47383719) Homepage Journal

      No. The real problem is that it is not backwards-compatible with Perl 5, making its rate of adoption guaranteed to be almost zero.

      • Re: (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday July 04, 2014 @11:23AM (#47383741)

        See also: Python 3

        • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

          by rubycodez (864176)

          or even Python 2.6 and Python 2.7, they're different langauges.

          that immaturity regarding backward compatibility is the big problem with open source, Linux is even worse with the fluid kernel ABI

          • Re: (Score:5, Insightful)

            by RoccamOccam (953524) on Friday July 04, 2014 @12:03PM (#47383961)

            or even Python 2.6 and Python 2.7, they're different langauges.

            Hyperbole, much? I don't think that I've had to change any of my thousands and thousands of lines of code to accommodate the move from 2.6 to 2.7 (if I did, it was so minor that I can't remember doing it). Adding features does not make them different languages.

            • by Anonymous Coward

              I remember having to make exactly one change: to replace a class with its instance as __enter__ / __exit__ no longer work as class methods.

          • by Grishnakh (216268)

            Wrong. Linux doesn't need a static ABI, because the device drivers are all distributed as part of the kernel. Only makers of proprietary modules, and sycophants and nay-sayers complain about the Linux kernel not having a static API and ABI for kernel modules.

            If you're talking about application code, the kernel is static on that. You can take binaries from 15 years ago and run them on a modern Linux kernel. The problem you'll usually run into is that the libraries that binary links to are not fully backw

            • by rubycodez (864176)

              you are wrong and part of the problem, the necessity and issues caused by rewritng drivers constantly causes problems and wastes time that could be better spent on extending features

              • by Grishnakh (216268)

                There is no time wasted rewriting drivers, and there is no problem. The drivers are part of the kernel; when the interfaces are changed, the drivers are changed accordingly. This doesn't take any time because the changes are fairly trivial (usually adding an argument to a function call). You have no idea what you're talking about, and are obviously not involved in kernel development.

            • by bored (40072)

              Only makers of proprietary modules, and sycophants and nay-sayers complain about the Linux kernel not having a static API and ABI for kernel modules.

              Ok, so this is going to sound like flaming but its not.. Because _ANYONE_ who has used linux for any extended period of time in a non trivial manner and, who is being honest with themselves has had problems due to the kernel and associated drivers being tied together.

              Thats because without fail, the drivers for every single piece of hardware and the kernel/users

              • by Grishnakh (216268)

                I think you're completely overblowing things. Regressions are rare; once a driver is working properly, what reason is there to go back and muck with the driver? Personally I've never seen any regressions at all on my hardware (or any HW I've worked with); once something's working, it stays working on newer versions. It's not like they need constant maintenance; the only time they need any maintenance is when the kernel interfaces change.

                For your bluetooth and backlight drivers, it sounds like you made so

      • by xorsyst (1279232)

        Precisely. How long have we had Python 3.x now? And almost everyone is still using 2.x

        • by jbolden (176878)

          Python 3 is much less of an improvement over 2 than Perl 6 is over 5. For better or worse the changes are much larger. A better comparison is Oak to Java, C++ to C# or VB6 to VB.NET

      • by jbolden (176878)

        Werl first off Perl6 has a Perl5 mode so it is backwards compatible. But even if that weren't the case Perl may have lost a lot of momentum but I don't see any reason that non backward compatible languages can't thrive. For example neither JavaScript nor ActionScript was backwards compatible with their parent language (ECMAScript) and both languages did rather well. Java was not backwards compatible with Oak. Perl itself was not backwards compatible with awk/sed scripting. Etc... There are a lot of c

      • No. The real problem is that it is not backwards-compatible with Perl 5, making its rate of adoption guaranteed to be almost zero.

        I believe the intention is to have compatibility, through Parrot. I believe this is also a major reason it hasn't been released yet.

    • In other words, even they couldn't maintain a large codebase written in Perl.
    • by eriks (31863)

      What?! No. He Doesn't say that anywhere in the interview, and it's only true for the "v6.pm" implementation of Perl6. Rakudo is implemented in C, Perl6 and NQP. Pugs is written in Haskell. then there's the PGE, and Perlesque, and other stuff too.

    • by cpghost (719344)
      Perl 6 in Perl 5, as in Lisp in Lisp?
  • by NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) on Friday July 04, 2014 @11:24AM (#47383743)
    When you knock the "rough edges" off of Perl, there's nothing left.
  • syntax (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gbjbaanb (229885) on Friday July 04, 2014 @11:34AM (#47383809)

    Now, the problem with that is that it only works if you know the distinction in the syntax. So people coming into Perl get lost in this sea of ampersands and stars and all sorts of other symbols that we use in the language. And until you get past and it sort of goes into your hind brain and it just translates immediately, âah yes, thatâ(TM)s a scalar variableâ(TM), âah yes, thatâ(TM)s a type blah, blah, blahâ(TM), it doesnâ(TM)t make sense. It looks like line noise, and I fully agree.

    and he's quite right, because the alternative is COBOL or Visual Basic where every syntax element is spelled out in big words.

    There's a reason Windows developers like C# and not VB.NET (even though its the same thing) and that's the syntax. With C# you get to use a few symbols for various bits that are otherwise spelled out in VB. Perl just takes it to the limit - which means you have to understand what those symbols mean, and if you don't it looks like garbage. Which, I guess, C# looks like to my mum.

    So in other words: learn your shit guys, you can't criticise perl for looking like crap unless you have taken the time to learn the language. And then you'll think it looks correct.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by rubycodez (864176)

      wrong, the alternative is not a COBOL or VB like syntax, talk about fallacy of asserting the consequent.

      plenty of well designed languages don't have the sigil mess, it's a sign of scatter-brainedness and design by urban sprawl

      • by gbjbaanb (229885)

        rubbish. Each element of a language is something you write down. It can be a symbol or it can be a word (or in Java it can be aReallyLongSetOfDescriptiveWords.In.Namespaces)

        The point is that once you've learned the sigils, its no longer a mess, its perfectly understandable and concise. There's no scatter-brainedness there or urban sprawl of design.

        Think of it this way - if you took any language and converted it to a set of machine-readable numbers, they'd all look the same. The difference is that you want s

        • by rubycodez (864176)

          I've done perl development for years, it is a mess

        • by sylvandb (308927)

          rubbish. ...if you took any language and converted it to a set of machine-readable numbers, they'd all look the same. The difference is that you want something humans can understand. Perl manages this - _but_ you have to take the time to learn what those symbols mean. In more wordy languages, you get the understanding from the English names they use instead. The trouble with that is that many people read the English words and assume they fully know what they mean, when they don't necessarily do.

          Rubbish is a great word.

          Your squiggles idea has been thought, tested and practically failed decades ago.

          APL much?

          Learn the squiggles

          sdb

        • I'm a professional developer.

          The syntax of Perl is uniquely idiotic, particularly the utterly fucked weak type system, and the difficulty for doing things the right way, and the ease in doing things the wrong way.

          I refuse to learn it properly. I'd rather expend the mental effort required, on more useful, sane and productive languages.

        • by Dutch Gun (899105)

          Some people criticize any language that doesn't meet some sort of "purity" standard, but languages and programming standards evolve over time, but perhaps they haven't clearly thought through the alternatives. There are only three possibilities that I can see.

          1) The language stagnates, stubbornly refusing to fix flaws or grow over time.
          2) The language rejects old "mistakes" and breaks backward compatibility in order to change or add new features, fragmenting the community.
          3) The language grows to incorpora

        • by Blakey Rat (99501)

          Human brains are finite. The simpler* a language is, the more likely the developer can fit the entire thing in his head and still have room for the actual problem he's trying to solve.

          If your programming language is unusable without weeks of rote-memorization, it's a bad language. That's not to say C# or VB.Net are better languages than Perl; just that your argument to the contrary doesn't make sense.

          The best, ideal, language would have near-zero cognitive load, so none of the programmer's memory is consume

          • by gbjbaanb (229885)

            TBH I'd rather have a small language that is a lot of small, well defined building blocks and make what I need out of it (maybe I played with lego too much as a kid), than a language that has the kitchen sink in it somewhere - or worse, has 3 kitchen sinks in it because they kept on adding them in different versions. (yes .NET, you)

            So I'd say perl or C are better languages than C# because they are small. Once you know the basics, you can do anything in them. With C# I'm forever finding new things I didn't k

          • Human brains are finite. The simpler* a language is, the more likely the developer can fit the entire thing in his head and still have room for the actual problem he's trying to solve.

            Simple languages for - wait for it - simple developers.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      >So in other words: learn your shit guys, you can't criticise perl for looking like crap unless you have taken the time to learn the language. And then you'll think it looks correct.

      I have learnt my shit. Been doing perl off and on for over 10 years in a medium-sized OO code base. I take care to make the code readable and I'm never confused by what I come across.

      But when writing new code, I swear I'll probably never get used to those fucking sigils. I still have to refer to old code or perlreftut every o

      • by rubycodez (864176)

        I've masterd Perl, and was highly paid developer in it from 1999 to 2008.

        that said, the language is poorly designed rubbish.

  • " As of 2009[dated info], multiple Perl 6 implementations are under development, but none of them are considered "complete". "
    So, there have been releases of Perl 6 but no finalization, but aren't most programming languages like that now?
    e.g. C# has 6 versions and Java (12ish, according to Wiki). Languages forever evolving.
    I know PERL is old and people except it to be more rigid like Fortran (even with new versions), but Fortran isn't being used for web apps, etc. that see constant technological inno
  • by rubycodez (864176) on Friday July 04, 2014 @12:09PM (#47383991)

    Larry went crazy, incorporating everything and the kitchen sink into Perl 6 and continues even now.

    Imagine a swiss army knife with fold-out basketball, urinal, blender, spark plug gap tester, hog nose tag plier, etc.

    what a farce, HURD may be still be floundering after a longer time but Perl 6 has gone in more directions

    • by walkeraj (1234310)
      But, it's coming this Christmas!
    • by tnk1 (899206)

      I honestly fear it may already be too late for perl6.

      Let's just look at this like any other software development project. Perl 6 may well be heads and tails above Perl 5, or even other languages, but it has seriously lost momentum to other languages.

      It is good to have a roadmap, and good to change, but they should have settled on like the top 5 features that they really wanted, come up with a solution for it, and released it. At this point, they're just in a cycle of taking so long that the innovation cur

      • They created a language that won't run Perl code and called it Perl. Then they tried to add everything to it at once. Then they created a platform for running interpreted languages to run it on, then they created another one, and then another one, and then another one. So after 14 years Perl 6 is still just a grammar that has no standard working implementation and is of no practical use. And because it is useless no one will invest time in finishing it and no one will ever use it to build anything.

        Perl 5 is

      • by rubycodez (864176)

        it was too late after a decade had passed, they are just embarassing themselves now

    • by FreqShow (1164571)

      Imagine a swiss army knife with fold-out basketball, urinal, blender, spark plug gap tester, hog nose tag plier, etc.

      If you added in a light saber, jumper cables, and a vibrator, I'd love to have one of those.

  • ..."Perl 6 has all of the same features [as Perl 5] but with the rough edges knocked off of them"...

    Hmmmm... it takes 14 years to remove some rough edges from Perl 5? There must be some really rough edges, Probably why Perl seems to be in decline.

    • by jbolden (176878)

      They were.

      1) Not designed all the way for unicode
      2) Not designed for parallelism effectively
      3) Doesn't have internal access to its own grammar
      4) Doesn't have access to a powerful type system

      etc... Perl 6 is a huge step up.

  • Its self-indulgent to design an upward incompatible programming language (and, no, Perl 6 is hardly alone in this as others have pointed out about Python3, etc.) without looking for your keys some distance from the lamp post [slashdot.org].

  • This title is incorrect. He barely talks about Perl 6 at all! Stick to the facts, Soulskill; you'll end up with less disappointed readers when you don't go for misleading clickbait.
  • by rjh (40933) <rjh@sixdemonbag.org> on Friday July 04, 2014 @02:54PM (#47384857)

    At OSCON 2006 I was sitting in one of the green rooms (the spaces set aside for speakers before presentations). My laptop was open and I was happily hacking away on a project. As I killed a bug and checked the code back in, I muttered under my breath, "Python, I love you. You make the hard stuff so easy."

    I noticed a few seconds later the room had gone utterly silent. I looked up, and sitting at the table across from me was Damian Conway, tapping away on his own laptop doing his own thing. I blinked a couple of times and suddenly noticed the entire room was expecting a Perl-vs-Python argument to erupt.

    Damian looked up from his work, noticed everyone was looking nervous. He looked over at me, I gave a "I don't know what's up with them, uh, help?" look and a shrug.

    Damian then looked back at the crowd and grinned. "Listen, the only thing I love more than Perl is well-written software, even if it's written in Python." He looked back over to me. "Kill a bug, didja?" I nodded. He gave me a smile and a thumbs-up, then returned to his code. I returned to mine, and after a few seconds the room let out his breath.

    I love Python. But the only thing I love more than Python is well-written software, even if it's written in Perl. :)

    • by rubycodez (864176)

      yes, there is very well written Perl. It was done in the last decade and before. Not used for new projects so much.

  • by SpaghettiPattern (609814) on Friday July 04, 2014 @05:19PM (#47385477)
    Conway states Perl isn't the ideal fist language and I sort of agree. I OTOH have found Perl awkwardly useful for learning OO. As in Perl 5 you had to roll your own inheritance, you definitely understood it better as a consequence. I transitioned to Java SE and I actually prefer the strong typing as it makes messing up that little harder. Perl is still in my toolbox and I do advanced system programs with it. You know, stuff that both Bourne and Java are bad at.

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